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Eight-member negotiating teams ‘working on talks agenda’

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(Last Updated On: September 13, 2020)

Members of the Afghan negotiating team said Sunday that actual negotiations might only start on Tuesday.

This comes after a member of the Taliban’s delegation in Qatar told Ariana News that an eight-member technical team from both sides was working on setting the agenda for talks, which they say could start Monday. 

The head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah however told Reuters that the Afghan negotiating team could discuss the issue of a reduction in violence when they met with Taliban representatives on Sunday. 

Abdullah said: “One of the topmost issues on the minds of the people is reduction in violence in a significant way … and also getting to … hopefully a permanent ceasefire.” 

The eight-member Afghan negotiating team that will work directly with the Taliban team are Masoom Stanekzai, Ahmad Nader Naderi, Zarar Ahmad Moqbel, Fawzia Koofi, Maulvi Enayatullah Baligh, and Khalid Noor.

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Ghani condemns attack on yet another government official

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the attack on Ayub Gharwal, deputy head of Paktia Provincial Council, who was gunned down on Saturday in Gardez city. 

In a statement issued by the Presidential Palace (ARG), Ghani reiterated his call to the Taliban to call for a humanitarian and lasting ceasefire to ensure the security of civilians. 

The president also called for an investigation into the killing of Gharwal. 

Paktia officials said the incident happened at about 5.30am in Gardez city while Gharwal was on his way to Gardez University. 

Officials said Gharwal was seriously wounded in the attack and later died in hospital from gunshot wounds. 

Gharwal’s death is another in a string of targeted attacks on high-profile public figures and government officials. 

Earlier this month, Vice President Amrullah Saleh was also targeted in an attack in Kabul. 

Saleh escaped with minor injuries but at least 10 people were killed in the roadside bombing that was intended to kill Saleh. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack on Gharwal. 

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Trump calls Taliban tough but says US military can’t police Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2020)

US President Donald Trump said Friday night that the Taliban was tough and smart but also “tired of fighting.”

Speaking to journalists at a press conference, Trump reiterated his decision on troop withdrawals and said “we’ll be down very shortly over the next couple of weeks to 4,000 — less than 4,000 in Afghanistan.

“And then we’ll make that final determination a little bit later on.”

On the Taliban, Trump said: “We’re dealing very well with the Taliban. They’re very tough, they’re very smart, they’re very sharp. But, you know, it’s been 19 years, and even they are tired of fighting, in all fairness.”

Trump also said the US had been serving as a “police force” in Afghanistan. 

“And we really served as a police force, because if we wanted to do what we had to do, we would have fought a lot differently than they have over their 19 years.

“They didn’t fight it properly. They were police, okay? They’re not police; they’re — they’re soldiers. So there’s a difference. The police — nobody has more respect for police than I do, but they have to do their own policing.”

Trump went on to say the US is “having some very good discussions with the Taliban, as you probably heard. It’s been public. And — but we’ll be down to — very shortly, we’ll be down to less than 4,000 soldiers.”

“And so we’ll be out of there, knowing that certain things have to happen — certain things have to be fulfilled.  But 19 years is a long time, 8,000 miles away. Nineteen years is a long time,” he said.

This comes amid the first rounds of intra-Afghan negotiations following the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February that set out certain conditions – one of which is the withdrawal of all foreign troops by around April next year. 

 

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Abdullah outlines future scenarios that are down to ‘the will of the people’

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(Last Updated On: September 17, 2020)

Both sides need to come to a shared agreement on Afghanistan’s future – one where the will of the people can be exercised freely, said Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Abdullah said Afghanistan’s future would include one that can sustain itself and one that leads to durable peace and stability. 

As intra-Afghan negotiations continue, between the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban, Abdullah said both sides need to come to a shared agreement on how to move forward. 

“Both sides should see the need and come to the realization that we must put people first,” he said and on whether the country’s future was a Republic or an Emirate system, he stated it would come “down to the will of the people”. 

However, he stated it was important that the will of the people should be exercised in a free way “one person, one vote is important.”

Asked about the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s constitution, and any possible changes to it, he said there were provisions incorporated in the guiding document which allowed for changes to be made. 

He said the provisions were designed for the interests of the country to get the people in the country together in a unified manner but a change to the constitution was not impossible. 

Should a peace deal be sealed and structural changes be needed, he stated: “The country needs national institutions, national army, national police or any other security sector.” 

Abdullah said that one aspect of the hard work that lay ahead of the peace talks teams was how to integrate the Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters.

“The blueprint has to be decided by both sides”, and there shouldn’t be preconditions attached to it, he said. 

Adding his voice to countless of other officials, both local and foreign, Abdullah said a reduction in violence was critical at this point so that the process could move towards a ceasefire. 

“When I talk about casualties, it’s not just on one side. It’s on both sides,” he said adding that this was unfortunate and a “burden on the next generation.”

He said there is no winner in a war and no loser in an inclusive, peaceful settlement. 

“While they are not recognizing us [Afghan government] or we don’t recognize them as the Islamic Emirate, but we recognize the need to get together, to sit together, to present our views which are different from one another – but to find ways how to reconcile those differences, how to find ways to live together while still maintaining some differences and fighting for it politically rather than through violence.”

He said there could be groups within the Taliban that want to continue with the talks and also to continue with the fighting but that he assumes there are others that are “thinking much more maturely” – based on experience. 

He said the fact that the United States is looking at Afghanistan reaching a peace deal “with urgency” was a “bonus. It’s a plus.” 

But for the Afghan negotiating team, the “ticking clock,” the urgency was more about stopping the suffering of the Afghan people. 

“A unified Islamic Republic will be in a much better position to negotiate … and represent the views of the people”. 

“The continuation of the war and suffering, endless, in an endless way, will not put anybody in a dignified position and it’s not a service to the people,” he said. 

 

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