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Ghani appoints critics to avoid interim govt: politicians

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(Last Updated On: January 10, 2021)

Some Afghan politicians said on Sunday that President Ashraf Ghani has cultivated new friendships with some of his critics in order to avoid an interim government and to stay in power.

This comes after Ghani appointed Mohammad Mohaqiq, head of the Wahdat-i-Islami Party, as his senior political and military adviser and introduced Rahila Dostum as a member of the Wolesi Jirga (Upper House of Parliament).

Mohaqiq’s appointment comes after a reported “cold shoulder” in the past after not having been invited to the Presidential Palace for any meetings.

“All political parties think that an interim government should be established. If Ghani thinks that he will be in power for four year it may be a reason for the appointments,” said Sattar Murad, a leading member of Jamayat-e-Islami party.

Sources close to Mohaqiq said that the move to appoint him was based on his abilities and role in the peace process.

“Well-known figures in the current situation, Afghanistan needs unity in this time. I think it is the root of the issue,” said Zahir Wahdat, deputy head of the Wahdat-i-Islami Party.

This comes after some Afghan politicians called this week for the establishment of an interim government for the sake of the peace process.

However some politicians have said government and the Taliban should agree to keep the structure but change the leadership.

“Both sides should agree to a government with no changes in the current government system,” said politician Wahidullah Sabawoon.

Rahmatulluh Nabil, former head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), is one public figure to call for an interim government but said the government structure should remain the same.

The Presidential Palace has not commented about the recent appointments but on Saturday vowed to retain Afghanistan as a republic and only hand over power to an elected successor.

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Interior ministry claims Taliban still enjoy close ties with al-Qaeda

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(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

Masoud Andarabi, Interior Minister says the Taliban have kept up a close relationship with “international terrorists” despite having promised to cut ties with terrorist groups including al-Qaeda.

Andarabi and top security officials visited Arghandab district, in Kandahar, where heavy clashes are ongoing between the Afghan forces and the Taliban – and have intensified over the past two months. 

During his visit to Arghandab, Andarabi stated the Taliban has not fulfilled its Doha commitments – which state the group must break relations with terrorist groups including al-Qaeda.

Andarabi said that foreign militants were fighting alongside the Taliban. This comes after officials stated last week that foreigners had joined the ranks of the Taliban to fight the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF).

“In the operation that is underway in Arghandab, many foreign Taliban and a foreign terrorists have participated in the clashes alongside the Taliban. The commandos witnessed the tactics they (Taliban) used, the way they dug tunnels, and planted mines, all these indicate a strong relation between international terrorism and the Taliban,” Andarabi said.

Meanwhile, security officials claimed that at least 600 militants including foreign nationals have been killed in the clashes over the past two months.

This comes a few days after the Taliban ordered its fighters not to include foreign militants in their ranks, nor shelter them, and stated if fighters fail to adhere to the order they face dismissal.

The group’s military commission said in a statement seen by Ariana News last week that should this happen the responsible cell will also be disbanded.

“All authorities and Mujahidin are directed that no one is allowed to arbitrarily let foreign groups into their ranks or give shelter to them.”

“If anyone commits such an act and the provincial authorities are notified, they (fighters) will be immediately dismissed,” the statement read.

“Their groups will be disbanded and referred to the military commission for further punishment,” the statement concluded.

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Arrival of ‘sticky bombs’ in Indian Kashmir sets off alarm bells

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(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

Security forces battling a decades-long insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir have raised concerns about the recent arrival in the disputed region of small, magnetic bombs that have wreaked havoc in Afghanistan.

“Sticky bombs”, which can be attached to vehicles and detonated remotely, have been seized during raids in recent months in the federally administered region of Jammu and Kashmir, three senior security officials told Reuters.

“These are small IEDs and quite powerful,” said Kashmir Valley police chief Vijay Kumar, referring to improvised explosive devices (IEDs). 

“It will certainly impact the present security scenario as volume and frequency of vehicular movements of police and security forces are high in Kashmir Valley,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

The Indian government flooded Kashmir, already one of the world’s most militarised regions, with more troops in August 2019, when it split the country’s only Muslim-majority state into two federally administered territories.

According to Reuters, the arrival of the sticky bombs in India-controlled Kashmir – including 15 seized in a February raid – raises concerns that an unnerving tactic attributed to the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan could be spreading to the India-Pakistan conflict.

Afghanistan in recent months has seen a series of sticky-bomb attacks targeting security forces, judges, government officials, civil society activists and journalists. The attacks – some as victims sat in traffic – have sown fear, while avoiding substantial civilian casualties.

Reuters reported that none of the devices seized in Kashmir was produced there, a senior security official said, suggesting they were being smuggled from Pakistan. “All of them have come via drone drops and tunnels,” he said.

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan, which each claim all of the Himalayan region but rule only parts of it.

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Khalilzad back on track with talks as he heads for region

Ariana News



(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has embarked on another trip to Germany, Afghanistan and regional countries, aimed at strengthening the Afghan peace process, sources said.

Khalilzad was on Sunday in Germany and is expected to travel to Qatar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, UAE and a number of other regional countries in the coming days, sources added.

This comes as negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban peace teams resumed last week after more than a month of delays.

Meanwhile, the Afghan State Ministry for Peace Affairs is optimistic about Khalilzad’s trip to the region.

“We welcome the US Special Envoy’s trip. The United States is a good strategic partner for Afghanistan and we hope this trip will be more effective in facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan,” State Minister for Peace, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Nader said.

The Taliban urged Washington to uphold its part of the US-Taliban agreement signed a year ago Sunday and stated the release of remaining prisoners and the end of blacklists have yet to be implemented.

The Taliban meanwhile issued a statement Sunday that urged the US to uphold its commitments as part of the agreement. 

The group stated that “the release of remaining prisoners and end of blacklists are part of the agreement that have yet to be implemented.”

Khalilzad, a Republican, brokered a deal with the Taliban on behalf of the US last year and was asked to stay on in the position by US President Joe Biden for the sake of continuity. 

The move is not typical, as traditionally incoming administrations replace politically appointed officials with their own team, particularly in foreign policy matters.

In late January, new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We’ve asked him to continue the vital work that he’s performing.” 

Khalilzad is a veteran of Republican administrations and served as US ambassador to the United Nations, Iraq and Afghanistan under former President George W Bush.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration then tasked Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan, with negotiating with the Taliban.

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