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Ghani states a stable Afghanistan would benefit the region

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(Last Updated On: March 30, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday at the 9th Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Dushanbe, in Tajikistan, that a stable Afghanistan is in the interests of all countries in the region.

Addressing delegates at the meeting Ghani said peace today is not just a wish for the Afghan nation but a necessity for the people.

He also said Afghans have been deprived of this right to peace for 42 years.

“We want peace because peace today is not just a wish for our people but a necessity. We and our partners are looking for a solution and peace,” Ghani said.

Ghani also said that a regional consensus on this issue is vital to Afghans and said he hopes Tuesday’s Heart of Asia Conference will bring an end to the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Ghani also said that transfer of power to another president in Afghanistan must be done in accordance with the Constitution.

“The Taliban must call a ceasefire and the international community must monitor the ceasefire,” Ghani said.

Ghani also said instead of war the Taliban must put their legitimate demands on the table.

Reiterating earlier statements, Ghani said Afghanistan is in a position to play the role of an Asian crossroads in the region and that good relations between countries in Central Asia was critical to the development of Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan-Tajikistan relations are based on mutual respect and trust,” he added.

On the issue of borders with neighboring countries, Ghani stated Afghanistan hopes its borders will become an example of mutual cooperation.

Meanwhile, foreign minister Hannef Atmar said at the Heart of Asia conference that the international community supports the idea that Afghanistan’s achievements of the last two decades should be preserved when it comes to the peace efforts.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon announced his country’s support in all sectors, especially in helping Afghanistan achieve a lasting peace.

“We are ready to work with Afghanistan to implement key projects. The experience of forty years of war in Afghanistan shows that there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis,” Rahmon said.

Rahmon also announced his support for the Afghan government’s stance in peace talks and he called on countries in both the region and the world to work for peace with the government and people of Afghanistan.

The pain of the citizens of Afghanistan is the pain of the Tajik people, Rahmon said.

“We will take effective steps to resolve the Afghan crisis. “Tajikistan wants peace in Afghanistan, and cooperation with Afghanistan is a priority in Tajikistan’s foreign policy.” Rahmon added.

Referring to Tajikistan’s past, Rahmon said: “The process of national reconciliation in our country took five years. Thousands of our citizens settled in Afghanistan. In the same days, Professor Burhanauddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud, made a historic service, and the first talks between the Tajiks took place in Kabul.”

A civil war was fought in Tajikistan almost immediately after independence from the Soviet Union, lasting from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country’s economy to grow.

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Pakistan urges Taliban to stay engaged in Afghan peace process

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Pakistan on Monday urged the Taliban to remain engaged in the Afghan peace process after the armed group said it would now shun summits about Afghanistan until all foreign forces had left.

The decision was taken after the United States said last week it would withdraw all troops by Sept. 11 this year, later than a May 1 deadline set out by the previous administration.

“They take their own decisions but we will do whatever we can to convince them that it is in their national interest to remain engaged,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said of the Taliban in an interview with Reuters in Abu Dhabi.

The refusal has thrown the peace process into disarray with Turkey scheduled to host a summit this Saturday, which diplomats had hoped would create new momentum towards a political settlement between the Taliban and Afghan government.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 when they were ousted by U.S.-led forces, but they still control wide areas.

Qureshi said delays to the withdrawal were always a possibility due to logistics but that the Taliban had largely succeeded in their objective for foreign troops to withdraw and so should show flexibility towards the new Sept. 11 deadline.

“The troops will be out and a date has been given and the process starts on the 1st of May and goes on until the 11th of September so there is a definite time frame,” Qureshi said.

He also said he had no contact with the Taliban but that he believed the insurgent group would benefit by remaining engaged in the process, suggesting that they show patience and perseverance.

Pakistan, which helped facilitate U.S.-Taliban negotiations in Doha that resulted in the initial May 1 withdrawal deal, wields considerable influence with the Taliban.

The insurgents have sanctuaries in Pakistan, whose main military-run intelligence service gives them support, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. Pakistan denies the allegation.

Qureshi said he fears violence could escalate if the peace process remains deadlocked, plunging Afghanistan into civil war and leading to an exodus of Afghans.

Pakistan, which hosts close to 3 million Afghan refugees and economic migrants, has built 90% of a fence along its disputed 2,500 km (1,500 mile) border with Afghanistan and would hopefully be completed by September, he said.

He also said Pakistan was ready to engage in direct dialogue with arch-rival India once Jammu and Kashmir statehood was restored, which New Delhi in 2019 split into territories.

“We are two atomic powers that cannot, should not go into a direct conflict. It would be suicidal,” Qureshi said.

But he said he had no plans to meet with his Indian counterpart is also in the United Arab Emirates this week.

Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, sources have told Reuters

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No guarantees about Afghanistan’s future post-pullout: American NSA

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

No one can offer guarantees about Afghanistan’s future after U.S. troops leave, a top White House official said on Sunday, even as he stressed the United States would stay focused on terrorist threats emanating from the country.

This comes after US President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that United States will withdraw all remaining troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, the White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was asked about the risk of a repeat of what happened in Iraq, where Islamic State (ISIS) militants seized territory after U.S. troops withdrew in 2011.

That led then-President Barack Obama to send troops back into Iraq.

Sullivan said Biden had no intention of sending American forces back to Afghanistan, but he added: “I can’t make any guarantees about what will happen inside the country. No one can.”

“All the United States could do is provide the Afghan security forces, the Afghan government and the Afghan people resources and capabilities, training and equipping their forces, providing assistance to their government. We have done that and now it is time for American troops to come home and the Afghan people to step up to defend their own country.”

But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected what he said were “false analogies” with the war in Vietnam as well as any suggestion his government was at risk of folding under Taliban pressure after U.S. troops leave. Afghan security forces were capable of defending the country, he said.

“The Afghan defense and security forces have been carrying over 90% of the operations in the last two years,” Ghani said in an interview with CNN.

Meanwhile former president Donald Trump said in a statement that leaving Afghanistan was “a wonderful and positive thing to do,” but called for a more rapid departure. Trump had set a May 1 deadline to withdraw.

CIA Director William Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that America’s ability to collect intelligence and act against extremist threats in Afghanistan will diminish after the departure of U.S. troops, Reuters reported.

A United Nations report in January said there were as many as 500 al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and that the Taliban maintained a close relationship with the group. The Taliban denies al-Qaeda has a presence in Afghanistan.

Announcing his decision to withdraw troops, Biden said the United States would monitor the threat, reorganize counterterrorism capabilities and keep substantial assets in the region to respond to threats to the United States emerging from Afghanistan.

“He has no intention of taking our eye off the ball,” Sullivan said of the president.

“We have the capacity, from repositioning our capabilities over the horizon, to continue to suppress the terrorist threat in Afghanistan.”

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Germany will not abandon Afghan staff, minister says

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Germany will not let down its Afghan staff as the international military mission in the country, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer pledged on Sunday.

“I feel it is Germany’s sincere duty to not leave these people without protection now that we will permanently withdraw,” the defence ministry in Berlin said on Twitter, quoting extracts from an interview with German news agency DPA.

U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO on Wednesday announced that they would withdraw the roughly 10,000 foreign troops still in Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Germany is the second-largest contingent with about 1,100 troops.

The withdrawals have raised concerns that Afghanistan could erupt into full-scale civil war, providing al Qaeda space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks on U.S. and other targets.

The German forces currently employ about 300 Afghans as interpreters and in other jobs, according to the defence ministry in Berlin.

Since 2013 Germany has admitted nearly 800 Afghans at risk in their own country after working for the foreign military, as well as about 2,500 family members.

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