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Ghani adviser claims Taliban are not invested in peace

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2021)

Waheed Omer, President Ashraf Ghani’s advisor and director general of the Office of Public and Strategic Affairs said on Saturday the Taliban must first fulfil its obligations made in the past before laying down new demands.

Speaking at a press conference Omer said that in the past two years the Afghan government has taken six major steps towards peace, but this has not been reciprocated by the Taliban.

“The Taliban has not taken even a small step towards peace over the last two years,” Omer said.

“Instead of imposing new conditions, they [Taliban] must fulfill their past commitments,” Omer added.

Omer also emphasized that peace based on a deal between several politicians or “elite peace” will not be sustainable.

Taliban members have said they are willing to enter into talks with a new administration if Ghani steps down, but the president has rejected the idea of an interim government, which he said Friday just leads to bloodshed – as experienced in the past.

“We have to agree on the election date that there is a legitimate way to transfer power, we had transitional governments, which led to bloodshed,” Ghani said.

However, experts say that any pursuit of supremacy by the Taliban and the government will completely thwart the peace efforts.

“The Presidential Palace must be convinced that fortunately or unfortunately an interim government is coming. In my view, an interim government has many advantages over a merged government which includes the Taliban,” said former water and energy minister Ali Ahmad Osmani.

“In Afghanistan, there is a need for a national reconciliation between the two sides of the war, until the two sides stop fighting and seeking supremacy, there will be no peace in Afghanistan,” said Tariq Farhad, a former presidential adviser.

Meanwhile, State Ministry of Peace Affairs says the Taliban is not willing to sit down at the negotiating table.

“The other side is not yet ready to sit at the negotiating table, so the consequences of civilian casualties as a result of the ongoing war and violence are on those who are delaying the peace process,” said Najia Anwari, the ministry’s spokeswoman.

Meanwhile the president’s adviser Omer also said that the Taliban negotiators are not showing any interest in holding meetings with the Afghan Republic’s peace talks team in Doha after negotiations resumed early this month following a three week break.

“Our war with the Taliban is over values. We are ready to be convinced or to convince them. Our hope is that the Taliban will participate in Doha and focus more on talks,” Omer said.

However, the peace talks in Doha have stalled and face an uncertain fate. Each side accuses the other of obstructing the process and making excuses.

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Pakistan’s customs agent says exports to Afghanistan dwindle

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Hundreds of trucks lined the winding, mountainous road leading to Torkhum, the Pakistan-Afghan border crossing on Thursday.

Pakistani officials say that is because exports to Afghanistan have dwindled in the days after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) take over.

But some truck drivers were upbeat because they said the vegetable and fruit season in Afghanistan had helped increase exports of these items from the war-ravaged country.

Another Pakistani official at another Pakistan-Afghan border Chaman said trade had picked up because the IEA government had reduced taxes, and also put an end to bribes that traders and truck drivers had to pay to cross the border.

Afghan new government bolstered its economic team last week, naming a commerce minister and two deputies as the group tries to revive a financial system in shock from the abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Underlining the economic pressures building on Afghanistan’s new government, prices for staples like flour, fuel, and rice have risen and long queues are still forming outside banks as they strictly ration withdrawals.

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Five climbers die in snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Five climbers died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, officials said.

The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus Mountains in high winds and low visibility amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the regional emergency ministry said.

The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call just after 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the ministry added. Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital.

One woman fell ill and died in the arms of one of the guides, Denis Alimov, who helped organise the climb, told TASS news agency.

Another climber broke his leg as he was coming down and the party decided to split into three groups depending on who could go fastest, Alimov told TASS.

“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”

Guides with the group suffered frostbite and other injuries, Alimov was quoted as saying.

Mount Elbrus, which rises to 5,642 metres (18,510 feet) just north of the border with Georgia, is infamous for sudden changes in weather and climbing conditions.

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IEA’s defence minister orders crackdown on abuses

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s acting new defence minister has issued a rebuke over misconduct by some commanders and fighters following the IEA’s victory over the Western-backed government in Afghanistan last month, saying abuses would not be tolerated, Reuters reported.

According to the report Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob said in an audio message that some “miscreants and notorious former soldiers” had been allowed to join Taliban units where they had committed a range of sometimes violent abuses.

“We direct you keep them out of your ranks, otherwise strict action will be taken against you,” he stated. “We don’t want such people in our ranks.”

The message from one of the IEA’s most senior ministers underlines the problems Afghanistan’s new rulers have sometimes had in controlling fighting forces as they transition from an insurgency to a peacetime administration, the report said.

Some Kabul residents have complained of abusive treatment at the hands of IEA forces who have appeared on the streets of the capital, often from other regions and unused to big cities.

There have also been reports of reprisals against members of the former government and military or civil society activists, despite promises of an amnesty by the IEA.

Yaqoob said there had been isolated reports of unauthorized executions, and he repeated that such actions would not be tolerated.

“As you all are aware, under the general amnesty announced in Afghanistan, no mujahid has the right to take revenge on anyone,” he said.

Reuters said that it was not clear precisely which incidents he was referring to, nor what prompted the message, which was published on IEA Twitter accounts and widely shared on social media.

There have been reports of tensions within the IEA between hardline battlefield commanders and political leaders more willing to seek compromise with governments outside Afghanistan, report said

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