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Eight security forces killed in Badghis and Ghor clashes

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(Last Updated On: February 8, 2021)

At least eight members of the Afghan security forces were killed and two more wounded in clashes with Taliban militants in Badghis and Ghor provinces, sources said Monday.

Naser Nazari, a member of the Provincial Council, told Ariana News that the militants attacked security outposts in the AabKamari district of the province on Sunday night.

Nazari stated that the clashes started at around midnight and lasted for four hours. He said at least six policemen were killed, and four others are missing.

Meanwhile, a clash broke out between security forces and insurgents in Firuzkoh city of Ghor province on Sunday night.

Fazl ul Haq Ehsan, head of the provincial council said the skirmish took place in the Bara Khana area in western parts of Firuzkoh.

At least two policemen were killed and two others wounded in the skirmish, Ehsan said.

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Pakistan to increase number of flights to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) announced Thursday it will increase the number of international flights to Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan.

According to the PIA, the national flag-carrier will increase its flights to Afghanistan from four to five a week.

“Expanding our network in Afghanistan by increasing weekly flights from 4 to 5. Best service & most comfortable aircraft on this scenic route,” PIA said in a tweet Thursday.

PIA also stated it will launch direct flights to Azerbaijan’s Baku from March 14. The flights will be operated twice a week from Lahore city of Pakistan

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German cabinet agrees to extend Afghanistan mission by 10 months

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

The German government on Wednesday agreed to extend its military mandate in Afghanistan by at least another 10 months.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported Thursday that the new draft mandate still needs the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

The current mandate is set to expire at the end of March.

Under the draft agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet, German troops would be able to stay in the country until January 31, 2022, Deutsche Welle reported. .

Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said the new date “takes account appropriately of the complex situation in Afghanistan and also makes possible the flexibility necessary to be able to react if the volatile security and threat situation there changes.”

With over 1,100 troops, Germany has the second-largest contingent after the United States in the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

Seibert said that the maximum limit of 1,300 German troops will remain unchanged in the new mandate.

This comes after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that no final decision had been made on the future of foreign troops in Afghanistan – despite the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that the military alliance is facing “many dilemmas” over its continued engagement in the country.

US President Joe Biden is reviewing Donald Trump’s 2020 deal with the Taliban, which sets May 1 as the deadline for a total US troop withdrawal.

Last week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the decision to withdraw troops should not be rushed, rather than being “slavishly” bound to the May deadline. Instead, the drawback of troops should be linked to slow-paced peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, he has said.

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Pakistan won’t support any attempt by Taliban to recapture power: ISPR general

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(Last Updated On: February 25, 2021)

Pakistan’s Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar said Wednesday that Pakistan has done what it can to promote peace efforts in Afghanistan and that Islamabad will not support the Taliban in any attempt to “recapture Kabul”.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Iftikhar said: “Even Afghan leaders are admitting that Pakistan has done utmost for peace in Afghanistan.”

Pakistan’s The News International quoted him as saying that it is for the citizens and the government of Afghanistan to determine the future of their country, and how the negotiating process would progress.

“We only aim for a long-lasting peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

On a question on NATO forces’ likely drawdown and a possible return of the Taliban, he said: “Afghanistan now is not what it was in ’90s and the state infrastructure cannot be trounced easily, and Pakistan also has changed.

“It’s impossible for the Taliban to recapture Kabul and that Pakistan would support them. It isn’t going to happen,” he said.

The News reported that he maintained the policy of the Pakistan government to extend a hand of peace to the neighbours was very clear.

This comes just days after Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov visited Islamabad to encourage Pakistan’s support for a meeting in Moscow to help facilitate the stalled Afghan peace process.

Kabulov told Russian news agency Sputnik that his “leadership has set the task of finding ways that will facilitate the start of inter-Afghan negotiations through consultations within the framework of the enlarged troika. We agreed on such a meeting with the American special envoy [Zalmay] Khalilzad. It can happen in Moscow.”

The “enlarged troika” was in reference to what Kabulov said was a group that evolved over the last two years, including countries with the most influence on the Afghan peace processes – the United States, China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia.

VOA reported that the Moscow format was a Russian initiative to organize regional stakeholders involved in the Afghan peace process. Its second meeting in 2018 brought the Taliban to an international forum for the first time. The U.S. sent representatives to observe.

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