World – Ariana News Bringing Afghan News to the World Mon, 27 May 2019 10:25:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 185 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.

NUG Leaders Condemn ‘Terrorist’ Attack in New Zealand Fri, 15 Mar 2019 11:50:38 +0000

The Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) leaders condemned the terrorist attacks on two mosques in New Zealand in which at least 49 people were killed and more than 20 wounded.

“Terrorist attacks on the mosques (in New Zealand) once again has indicated that terrorists are not dependent to any religion and they are the enemy of humanity,” President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement

The president stressed the need for joint combat against terrorism. He also extended his condolences with the government and the people of New Zealand and wished a full recovery for those wounded in the shootings.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah a tweet also condemned the attack which took place on two mosques in Christchurch of New Zealand and called it a “barbaric terrorist attack.”

“Sad to hear of the barbaric terrorist attack on Mosques in Christchurch. Terrorism has no religion & no legitimate cause. Our thoughts & prayers go out to the victims of this savage act. We stand in solidarity with New Zealand Gov & people in condemning this crime,” he said.

The mosques on target were the Masjid Al Noor in central Christchurch City and another one in suburban Linwood.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference that the mosque shootings appeared to be a well-planned “terrorist attack”.

“This is, and will be, one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” an ashen-faced Ardern said.

U.S., Taliban Make ‘Meaningful’ Progress in Fifth Round of Talks in Doha Wed, 13 Mar 2019 09:37:54 +0000

Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department Robert Palladino has said the U.S. and Taliban representatives have had ‘meaningful” progress in the fifth round of peace talks in Qatar which ended on Tuesday.

“These have been the most substantive talks with the Taliban to date,” Palladino told reporters on Tuesday.

He stressed that the Taliban have agreed that peace will require both sides to fully address four “core” issues including counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive cease-fire.

 “When that agreement, in draft, is finalized, the Taliban and an inclusive Afghan negotiating team that includes the Afghan Government and other Afghans will begin intra-Afghan negotiations of a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire,” Palladino said.

It comes as the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that he was returning for consultations with partners after wrapping up the U.S. longest round of consecutive peace talks with Taliban in Doha.

He said they have “agreed in draft” on the issues of counter-terrorism assurances and troop pullout from Afghanistan.

“My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed,” Khalilzad tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Taliban in a statement on Tuesday also confirmed that the sides agreed in a draft regarding the two issues.

“Both sides will deliberate over the achieved progress, share it with their respective leaderships and prepare for the upcoming meeting, the date of which shall be set by both negotiation teams,” the statement said.

Around 14,000 U.S. troops are based in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces, while many Afghans are concerned of abrupt U.S. pullout from the war-torn country, following the peace talks.

By: Ahmad Zubair Habibzada

Iran’s President Accuses U.S. of Trying to Change Clerical Establishment Thu, 07 Mar 2019 05:41:09 +0000

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States on Wednesday of plotting to use economic pressure to overthrow the Islamic republic’s clerical establishment, and ruled out the possibility of talks with Washington.

“Iran is in economic and psychological war with America and its allies. Their aim is to change the regime but their wish will not come true,” Rouhani said in a speech in the northern province of Gilan.

U.S.-Iranian tensions resurged after President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of world powers’ 2015 agreement with Iran that curbed its disputed nuclear activity. Trump said the deal was flawed as it did not curb Iran’s ballistic missile programme or support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran that were lifted in 2016 under the deal. The renewed U.S. clampdown caused a crash of Iran’s currency, rampant inflation and a flight of foreign investors desperately needed by Tehran to modernize its economy.

The other signatories to the deal – Britain, Germany, France, Russia, and China – oppose the reinstatement of U.S. financial and oil sanctions and have sought to salvage the 2015 deal by finding non-dollar ways to conduct business with Tehran.

Iranian authorities have said that Trump administration has secretly voiced a willingness to enter into talks with Iran.

“There is no possibility of entering negotiations with America,” Rouhani said in a speech in the city of Lahijan, broadcast live on state television. “America wants to take Iran back to 40 years ago … to the era before the (1979 Islamic) Revolution…They want regime change.”

Trump, “very disappointed” if NK reports are true

Analysts say Iran’s clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei guardedly backed the 2015 deal as he knew that Iranians, many of whom have periodically taken to the streets to protest at economic hardships, could not tolerate more pressure.

Iranian leaders have warned that Tehran could drop out of the nuclear deal if the other signatories fail to secure the economic benefits to Tehran accruing from the pact.

“Our nation and the leadership are united against our enemies … We will continue our path of independence and freedom,” said Rouhani, the architect of the nuclear agreement.

But if the deal collapses, Iran’s balance of power could tilt in favor of the pragmatist Rouhani’s hardline rivals who oppose improving ties with the West and are close to Khamenei.

Input form Reuters

U.S. Senator Introduces Bill to End Afghanistan War and Give Veterans Cash Bonus Wed, 06 Mar 2019 10:28:36 +0000

The United States Republican Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday introduced a bill that could end the 17-year conflict in the war-weary Afghanistan.

Rand Paul, a Republican senator proposes giving all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans a one-time $2,500 payout and declaring victory in Afghanistan in what he is billing a cost-saving move for the United States.

According to him, the payout to veterans would cost taxpayers more than $7 billion, but it would also be “an immediate savings of 83 percent when compared to the current yearly cost of nation-building.”

Paul said under his plan the bonus for veterans would be required to be paid out within one year of the official end of the war.

“It’s important when to know to declare victory and leave a war,” he said in a video on Twitter. “I think that time is long past, but I think we can all agree that time has come.”

“I supported going to war in Afghanistan in 2001, attacking those who harbored the 9/11 terrorists or helped to organize the attack … and going after al-Qaeda,” Paul said.

“…we are many, many years past that mission” after all, Paul says, “Osama bin Laden was killed eight years ago.”

The United State has turned to nation-building at the cost of more than $50 billion spent a year in Afghanistan, he added.

 “We don’t need to be wasting that $50 billion, and there is no doubt much of it is wasted,” Paul said. “When are they (the Afghanistan government) going to pay for their own stuff? Why does Uncle Sam have to be Uncle Sap and pay for everything?”

About 14,000 U.S. troops are still deployed to Afghanistan in support and training roles and more than 2,400 American service member, have lost their lives since 2001

Indian Fighter Jets Shot Down over Kashmir as Tensions Soar Wed, 27 Feb 2019 11:21:04 +0000

Pakistan shot down two Indian aircraft and launched air strikes at six targets in Indian-administered Kashmir, Pakistan army said on Wednesday.

Addressing at a press conference Pakistan’s Army spokesman Asif Ghafoor said that the country’s air forces have shot down two Indian fighter jets inside the Pakistan airspace.

He also said that one Indian pilot was arrested by troops on the ground.

Ghafoor added that one of the crafts fell inside Pakistan and the other fell inside the Indian Territory.

However, the Indian government has not officially refused the claim but confirmed that it has lost one MiG21 jet and a pilot is also missing.

“Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” Indian’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

According to the statement, a Pakistan F-16 fighter jet was also shot down by the Indian Air Force on Wednesday while Pakistani fighter jets entered Indian airspace to target military installations on the Indian side.

“The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side,” the statement added.

This comes as on Tuesday the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke separately with the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan and urged them to avoid “further military activity” following an air strike by India inside Pakistan.

“We encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,” Pompeo said Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Indian aircraft entered Pakistani airspace in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in targeted a militants camp, where dozens of Jaish-Mohammad fighter and commanders were killed.

Pakistan claims that there were no casualties in the strike.

It was the first time Indian jets had entered and fired while within Pakistani airspace since a war between the two countries in 1971.

US Urges India, Pakistan to ‘Exercise Restraint’: Pompeo Wed, 27 Feb 2019 05:55:45 +0000

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke separately with the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan and urged them to avoid “further military activity” following an air strike by India inside Pakistan.

Pompeo spoke with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to stress on the priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action, and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil, the US Department of State said in a statement.

“We encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,” Pompeo said Tuesday.

He also urged both Ministers to prioritize direct communication and avoid further military activity.

Meanwhile, Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the U.S. Secretary of State that the Indian ‘violation’ could affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

This comes hours after the Indian jets conducted air strikes against a militant camp in Pakistani territory on early Tuesday.

The Indian officials said on Tuesday that the air strikes hit a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed, the group that claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir on February 14 and raised tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbors

Pakistan says there were no casualties in the strike, while India says it hit a terrorist training camp and killed a “very large number” of militants.

The Indian aircraft “released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot”. There were “no casualties or damage,” Pakistan Army spokesman Asif Ghafoor wrote on Twitter.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister in a video message called the airstrikes as ‘grave aggression’ by violating the line of control.

He stressed, “Pakistan deserves the right to self-defense and adequate response.”

Indian Air Force violated Line of Control, claims Pakistan Tue, 26 Feb 2019 06:29:36 +0000

Indian military aircraft violated the Line of Control as they intruded from Muzaffarabad sector in the Kashmir region, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Army said on Tuesday.

The Indian aircraft “released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot”. There were “no casualties or damage,” Pakistan Army spokesman Asif Ghafoor wrote on Twitter.

Ghafoor, tweeted, “Indian aircrafts intruded from Muzaffarabad sector. Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage.”

Meanwhile, Indian local media reported that the Indian Air Force launched air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp across the Line of Cross in Balakot, a town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan.

The strike comes almost two weeks after a terror attack killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary personnel in Pulwama in Kashmir that raised tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

India accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists who targeted its Army personnel, as Pakistan has rejected the assertion.

Earlier, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasrullah had warned that peace talks between the U.S. and Afghan Taliban would be affected if India resorted to violence against Pakistan in response to a recent deadly bombing in the Kashmir region.

U.S., Russian Envoys Discuss Afghan Peace in Turkey Fri, 22 Feb 2019 11:37:58 +0000

The U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan has met his Russian counterpart in the Turkish capital for talks on efforts to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

The Russian Embassy in Ankara announced on Twitter Friday that it was hosting a meeting between Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Zamir Kabulov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan.

Khalilzad has stepped up efforts to find a peace deal for Afghanistan and held several rounds of direct talks with the Taliban.

He will hold another round on Monday. The two sides have focused their talks on the withdrawal of U.S. troops and measures to prevent Afghanistan again becoming a staging arena for terrorists to attack the United States.

Russia has also emerged as an influential player by hosting Afghan talks.

Based on reporting by AP, Daily Sabah, and Anadolu Agency 

NATO Chief Says ‘No Decision Yet On Troops Pullout’ Wed, 13 Feb 2019 11:46:18 +0000

NATO chief has reiterated they will continue to support the Afghan security forces create the conditions for a peaceful solution.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the meeting between defense ministers of the alliance in Brussels, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “the aim is of course not to be in Afghanistan forever. The aim is to be in Afghanistan to fight terrorism and to train, assist and advise the Afghan National Army, security forces, so they can stabilize their own country.”

He said that no decision has been taken about any withdrawal of troops,” but we strongly support the efforts to reach a political, peaceful settlement. And therefore we are in close contact with the US Special Envoy, Ambassador Khalilzad.”

“I would also like to commend President Ashraf Ghani for his leadership and initiative he took last year with the ceasefire and the peace process he initiated last year,” he said.

He has briefed NATO Allies three times over the last weeks on the efforts to try to reach an agreement with Taliban.

“NATO Allies went in together in Afghanistan, we will make decisions on our future posture in Afghanistan together, based on conditions determined together with the Afghans,” he added.

“we support the peace efforts, and we will, of course, do whatever we can to fully support the implementation of a peace deal if that is reached,” he noted.

U.S. Troop Pullout from Afghanistan won’t Create ‘power vacuum’: Kabulov Wed, 13 Feb 2019 08:28:23 +0000

Russia’s Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will not create a power vacuum and the Taliban can be a potential ally in the fight against Daesh in the country.

Addressing to reporters on Tuesday in Moscow, Kabulov said that if the U.S. fails to strike an agreement on a military pullout with Taliban, “they could stay for another few years but in the end, they’ll have to go, and this time in disgrace.”

This comes as the U.S. President Donald Trump on Feb. 5 said that he will reduce the 14,000- American troops in Afghanistan, adding that officials are having “constructive talks” with the Taliban and other Afghan groups.

Trump stressed, after a peace agreement, the Taliban must ensure that Afghanistan would not be once again a safe haven for an international terrorist like al-Qaida and ISIS also known as Daesh.

“As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. And we will indeed focus on counter-terrorism,” he said.

Moscow last week hosted a summit between the Taliban and some Afghan politic and Jihadi figures, where they issued a joint declaration in which they outlined a nine-point approach including U.S. troops pullout from Afghanistan to promote intra-Afghan dialogue aimed at reaching a political settlement in Afghanistan.

At the meanwhile, Kabulov has announced a fresh round of Russia-U.S. talks on Afghanistan that will be held on Feb. 22 in Ankara, Russian media reported.

Kabulov announced the meeting with the U.S. Special representative Zalmay Khalilzad in a joint press conference on Tuesday.

He also said that both sides agreed to meet at a neutral venue in the region and Turkey came up as a “comfortable” option.

“I offered our Turkish partners who are important players (in Afghanistan) to use this trip for bilateral consultations with Turkish colleagues about Afghanistan,” the report noted.

Amid efforts for reaching a peace agreement to end the long-term conflict in Afghanistan, the Taliban have refused to sit in direct negotiation with the Afghan government as calls it a “puppet regime,” while they have held talks with Afghan politicians and U.S. officials.

With Inputs from Bloomberg

Pentagon’s Acting Chief Makes Unannounced Visit to Afghanistan Mon, 11 Feb 2019 05:20:26 +0000

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan landed in Afghanistan for an unannounced visit Monday amid a push for peace with the Taliban, the U.S. media reported.

Shanahan, who will meet U.S. troops and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said he had so far not received any direction to reduce the nearly 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The United States has important security interests in the region, he told a small group of reporters traveling with him on the unannounced trip.

Thus far the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, calling it illegitimate. Washington is trying to break that impasse.

“It is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding Afghanistan,” Shanahan said as quoted by Reuters. “The Afghans have to decide what Afghanistan looks like in the future. It’s not about the U.S., it is about Afghanistan.”

Shanahan took over from Jim Mattis, who quit in December over policy differences with U.S. President Donald Trump.

He said he could not make any guarantees because U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was leading the talks.

He also said his goal on the trip was to get an understanding of the situation on the ground from commanders and then to brief Trump on his findings.

It comes as the U.S. envoy Khalilzad left Washington on Sunday on yet another peace mission that includes talks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Qatar.

The U.S. State Department said Ambassador Khalilzad and his interagency delegation would also consult officials in Belgium, Germany, and Turkey before arriving in the region for further talks. The trip, which began on Sunday, will continue till Feb 28, when the chief US negotiator is expected back in Washington for consultations.

The State Department said the trip “is part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that protects U.S. national security interests and brings all Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue through which they can determine a path for their country’s future”.

Khalilzad will meet “our allies and partners to discuss mutual efforts to advance that goal and will consult with the Afghan government throughout the trip”, the statement noted.

With Inputs from Reuters

U.S. Seeks Peace Deal with Taliban before July Elections Sat, 09 Feb 2019 09:49:19 +0000

The U.S. Special Envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday said that he hopes a peace agreement could be reached with the Taliban before Afghanistan’s presidential election which is scheduled to be held in July.

Addressing at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, Khalilzad said that this is an effort to also bring the Taliban in the election process as ‘peace agreement’ ensures a ‘peaceful election.’

Khalilzad said Afghanistan’s next election makes reaching peace agreements ‘complicated’ but he said it would be better for the country if a ‘peace agreement’ could be reached before the election.

“My overall goal is, at the direction of the president and the secretary of state, not to seek a withdrawal agreement but a peace agreement,” Khalilzad said.

The envoy stressed that they are in the early stage of a “protracted process” and that they still have a long way to go.

“After many conversations, we have reached an agreement in principle with the Taliban on a framework that would provide guarantees and an enforcement mechanism that no terrorist group…international terrorist group or individual– would be able to use Afghanistan” as a platform for international terrorism,” Khalilzad noted.

The diplomat also said that more talks are planned to “flesh out” the Taliban’s commitments.  “Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” he stressed.  

On Tuesday, last week, Russia hosted a two-day meeting between the Taliban and Afghan oppositions in its capital, Moscow in which the delegates attending the talks issued a joint declaration as a move to promote intra-Afghan dialogue to end the nearly two decades of war in Afghanistan. 

In reaction to the meeting, Khalilzad said that the U.S. welcomes any effort that could facilitate the Afghan peace process and that put an end to the ongoing conflict in the war-weary country.

Pakistan Reiterates Support to Kashmir People on Solidarity Day Wed, 06 Feb 2019 09:25:12 +0000

Pakistan observed ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ on Tuesday (February 5) as the country’s President Arif Alvi reiterated his support to the people of Kashmir in their struggle for the right of self-determination.

Pakistan president in a message said that the February 5, is an opportunity to pay tribute to the unparalleled commitment of the Kashmiris for the attainment of the legitimate right to self-determination.

“We reassure our Kashmiri brothers and sisters that we will remain consistent in our principled position on Kashmir. The entire Pakistani nation stands with its Kashmiri brethren in their valiant struggle to achieve the legitimate right to self-determination,” Alvi said.

Pakistan’s President also urged the Indian government to uphold the rights of the Kashmiri people.

Every year on February 05, Pakistan celebrates the day as “Kashmir Solidarity Day” when they organize protest rallies against the alleged human rights violation in Kashmir.

It comes as the tensions between Pakistan and India have intensified on Kashmir. Pakistan is pushing India to implement the United Nations resolutions on the decades-old dispute between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

‘Great Nations Don’t Fight Endless Wars’ – Trump Wed, 06 Feb 2019 05:38:04 +0000

The U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated on Tuesday that if an agreement has reached in peace talks with the Taliban, he would pullout American troops from Afghanistan.

Trump said in his annual State of the Union that his administration has accelerated talks with groups to reach into a political settlement in Afghanistan, including with the Taliban.

“We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace,” he said.

Trump also pledged in his speech to Congress that he would reduce the current 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan. After losing more than 2,300 U.S. soldiers and spending more than $900 billion in Afghanistan since 2001.

“As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. And we will indeed focus on counter-terrorism,” he said.

“Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded,” he said.

Trump also said that when he campaigned for president in 2016, he wanted to focus more on domestic issues than foreign conflicts.

“Great nations do not fight endless wars…,” he said,” Our troops have fought with unmatched valor — and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.

“When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers,” he added.

Trump also noted that now, they are working with their allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS. “It is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home,” he said.

This comes as the Republican-led U.S. Senate backed largely symbolic legislation on Monday that broke with Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

U.S. Senate Breaks with Trump by Opposing Plans for Abrupt Withdrawal of Troops Tue, 05 Feb 2019 12:14:05 +0000

The Republican-led U.S. Senate backed largely symbolic legislation on Monday that broke with President Donald Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

The Senate voted 70-26 in favor of a non-binding amendment, drafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying it was the sense of the Senate that Islamist militant groups in both countries still pose a “serious threat” to the United States.

The amendment acknowledged progress against Islamic State and al Qaeda in Syria and Afghanistan but warned that “a precipitous withdrawal” could destabilize the region and create a vacuum that could be filled by Iran or Russia.

It called on the Trump administration to certify conditions had been met for the groups’ “enduring defeat” before any significant withdrawal from Syria or Afghanistan.

Before the vote, McConnell said he introduced the bill so the Senate could “speak clearly and directly about the importance of the” missions in Afghanistan and Syria.

Passage was expected after the Senate voted to advance it in a procedural vote last week. After concerns from some Democrats, the Senate approved a change to the bill making it clear the amendment was not intended to be a declaration of war or authorization to use military force.

The vote added the amendment to a broader Middle East security bill making its way through Congress. The Senate voted 72-24 to advance the broader bill in a procedural vote on Monday after the amendment vote.

To become law, however, the bill would need to pass the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, where it is unlikely to move without significant changes because of concerns about a provision addressing the “Boycott, Divest and Sanction” movement concerned with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

The votes marked the second time in two months that the Senate supported a measure contradicting Trump’s foreign policy, although legislation to change his policies has yet to become law.

Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans strongly disagreed with his plans to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria on the grounds that militants no longer pose a threat.

Senator Jim Risch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, disputed before Monday’s vote that the amendment rebuked or insulted Trump. “As I read it, it recognizes … his effort for us to examine exactly what we are doing in these places,” Risch said.

Reported by Reuters.

U.S. Senator Graham Urges Trump to Meet Pakistan PM for Afghan Peace Mon, 21 Jan 2019 13:52:01 +0000

U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday President Donald Trump should meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as soon as possible to reset long-difficult U.S. relations with Pakistan and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

Graham’s comments come amid efforts to press on with talks between the Taliban and the United States aimed at an agreement to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

“I’ve seen things change here and all in a positive direction,” Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has generally been a staunch supporter of Trump, told a news conference in Islamabad.

He said a meeting with Khan, who has declared strong support for a peace agreement in Afghanistan, would leave Trump “far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today”.

“With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship,” he said. A previously transactional relationship, based on rewards for services rendered, should be replaced by “strategic engagement”, including a free trade agreement, he said.

Trump, who has in the past argued for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan, has made it clear he wants to see a peace accord reached rapidly although the Taliban have so far refused to talk directly with the Afghan government.

Graham’s trip to Pakistan coincided with a visit by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, and top military commanders including General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command.

Khalilzad left Islamabad without announcing a new date for talks with Taliban representatives, who have refused further meetings until the U.S. side agrees to discuss a timetable for withdrawing its forces.

Asked whether there had been confusion over the U.S. message, Graham, who has called for a Senate hearing on Trump’s plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, said “without a doubt” but added that he did not believe Washington would stand by and allow a Taliban victory.

“The world’s not going to let the Taliban take Afghanistan over by force of arms. That would be unconscionable,” he told Reuters. “Any president who let that happen would go down in history very poorly.”

With Inputs from Reuters.