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CENTCOM chief ‘developing concepts’ to deal with ‘terrorists’

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(Last Updated On: April 28, 2021)

Commander of US Central Command General Kenneth F. McKenzie said on Tuesday he is developing concepts that will preserve the US’s ability to ensure Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorist attacks against the United States.

He said these concepts will help enhance America’s “ability to strike terrorists and capitalize on partnerships elsewhere in the region.”

He said his headquarters is also working closely with that of U.S Forces Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support mission “to ensure that we withdraw our forces from Afghanistan in a deliberate synchronized manner that protects our personnel.

He said the U.S will continue to provide security assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces on a bilateral basis.

“The department [of defense] is working through how we will manage this effort without personnel in Afghanistan, to manage security assistance, we’re also steadfastly supporting ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve Afghanistan’s long war while holding the Taliban to their part of the February 2020 commitment that they will end their relationship with al-Qaeda and prevent the use of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies,” he said.

McKenzie’s comments coincided with a US Senate Foreign Relation Committee hearing on Tuesday, which saw lawmakers raise concerns about the future of Afghanistan post troop withdrawal.

“How we withdraw and what political arrangement is left in our wake matters deeply,” US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez said.

“If the Taliban were to come back to power, the reality for Afghanistan’s women and girls, I think, would be devastating.”

Menendez said that he doesn’t “believe under any circumstances that the United States Senate will support assistance for Afghanistan, especially under the World Bank’s program which provides budget support, if the Taliban has taken a governing role that ends civil society advances and rolls back women’s rights.”

But US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said any future support of a government that included the Taliban would be conditional.

“If they do want US assistance, they want international acceptance … those things will be all affected by how they treat their own citizens, first and foremost the women of Afghanistan, children and minorities,” Khalilzad said at the hearing.

“We should all remain concerned that those rights could suffer,” he said.

Asked if the US would keep any leverage to protect those rights once its troops are gone, Khalilzad said aid and other types of diplomatic support “would be not available if they did not respect the human rights of Afghan women or others.”

Senator Jim Risch said the US military withdrawal should proceed only with safeguards for the gains the US has made in Afghanistan.

“I have deep concerns about the administration’s rush for the exits in Afghanistan,” Risch said.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I’m concerned that the administration’s decision may result in a Taliban offensive that topples the government.”

But Khalilzad said that he doesn’t “believe the (Afghan) government is going to collapse or the Taliban is going to take over.”

“The choice that the Afghans face is between a negotiated political settlement or a long war,” he added.

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CSTO ready to ensure its security given situation at borders

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(Last Updated On: May 17, 2022)

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is prepared to ensure the security of its borders amid growing insecurity in Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to a joint statement by the CSTO leaders that was adopted at the organization’s summit in Moscow on Monday and posted on the Kremlin’s website.

“The situation in Afghanistan and on other external frontiers of the CSTO member-states is alarming,” the statement said.

“In connection with this, we express readiness to maintain security at the borders within the CSTO’s zone of responsibility.”

The meeting was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon – the leaders of all six member states of the group.

The Collective Security Treaty was signed on May 15, 1992 in Tashkent.

Despite CSTO members’ concerns, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, says that security is ensured throughout Afghanistan and that no opposition group is active enough to be considered a threat to the security of other countries.

According to the Deputy Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, Afghanistan’s borders are more secure than ever and countries should not worry about this.

“Afghanistan’s borders are now more secure than ever, and Afghan territory will not be used against any country,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

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India hosting key SCO anti-terror meeting

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) anti-terror body Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) representatives came together Monday for the start of a three-day meeting in New Delhi.

Among those attending is a three-member Pakistani delegation that arrived in India on Saturday via the Wagah border.

The situation in Afghanistan and the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country is expected to be on the agenda.

According to Indian media reports, New Delhi is also expected to raise issues regarding the security situation in Afghanistan.

The RATS is the Executive Committee of the SCO, headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which is a permanent unit of the organisation which serves to promote cooperation of member states against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

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IEA says girls’ schools will reopen soon

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)

Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), and deputy minister of the IEA’s Ministry of Information and Culture, said progress has been made at a meeting of religious scholars and girls’ schools would reopen soon.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul on Sunday Mujahid said: “Good progress has been made at the meeting of the country’s scholars regarding the reopening of girls’ schools and other major political issues, and girls’ schools will be reopened in the near future.”

He said that the meeting, attended by tribal leaders and influential people of the country, is focusing on major political, security and social issues.

“The Ulema are consulting on the reopening of girls’ schools, and progress will be made soon,” said Mujahid.

Meanwhile, Anas Haqqani, a senior member of the Islamic Emirate, said on Wednesday that a meeting of religious scholars would be held to discuss the issue of girls going to school.

The closure of girls’ schools above the sixth grade sparked a major outcry around the world with the international community repeatedly calling for schools to reopen.

Officials at the Ministry of Education of the Islamic Emirate have said that they will reopen girls’ schools in the near future within the framework of Islamic principles.

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