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Ghani’s order to ANDSF to break ‘active defense’ mode; follow-up reactions

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(Last Updated On: May 13, 2020)

President Ghani’s order of shifting the Afghan forces from “active defense” mode to “offensive” one has triggered national and international reactions.

Following Tuesday’s heinous attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar, President Ghani in a video statement ordered Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to switch from “active defense” mode to “offensive” one.

Pointing at attacks on the hospital in Kabul, the funeral in Nangarhar, and some other acts of violence, President Ghani said that the Taliban and Daesh have killed innocent Afghans, including women and children.

The president has also said that the Taliban has intensified its attacks and violence against the call of the Afghan government and the nation for a ceasefire and bringing peace.

Consequently, the Taliban released a statement condemning the attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar, considering them of Daesh’s work, noting it is due to the operations of the Taliban “that there remain no known Daesh strongholds in any part of Afghanistan”.

Also, the statement underlines that “such attacks are jointly planned and executed from guesthouses in Kabul and other cities by Daesh members” and the government “intelligence in order to batter the nation, provide a space for the implementation of failed policies and to take anti-Islam and anti-peace steps”.

The Taliban statement says that since the singing of the US-Taliban agreement, the Afghan government “has been trying to create hurdles for the peace process”.

“From deliberately delaying the prisoner release process which was both an important step for agreement implementation and launch of intra-Afghan negotiations and could have safeguarded the lives of thousands of prisoners from the current threat of coronavirus, to the current declaration of offensive operations”, the Taliban underscored in the statement.

The Taliban says it is “fully prepared to counter all enemy movements and offensives” noting that “from now onwards the responsibility of further escalation of violence and its ramifications” will be the responsibility of the government.

On the other hand, the United States, in a press release Tuesday, condemning the Kabul and Nangarhar attacks noted, “We note the Taliban has denied any responsibility and condemned both attacks as heinous. The Taliban and the Afghan government should cooperate to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

“As long as there is no sustained reduction in violence and insufficient progress towards a negotiated political settlement, Afghanistan will remain vulnerable to terrorism. The Afghan people deserve a future free from terror, and the ongoing peace process continues to present a critical opportunity for Afghans to come together to build a united front against the menace of terrorism,” the US underlines through the statement.

Zalmay Khalilzad US Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, who is the axis in the Afghan peace process, in a tweet, called on Taliban and the Afghan government to cooperate “against a common enemy that perpetrates such crimes” noting “Failure to do so, leaves Afghanistan vulnerable to terrorism, perpetual instability & economic hardship.”

He condemned Tuesday’s attacks, tweeting that the “unspeakable” violence “against mothers, babies, and unborn children” in Kabul and on a funeral in Nangarhar “are acts of pure evil”.

Also, the US Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson of the US Embassy Kabul condemned the attacks and those who are targeting the defenseless and oppressed people.

The United Nations has also condemned the attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

In addition, the Human Rights Watch has considered the attack on the hospital a war crime.

Ariana News Analytical

Violence in Afghanistan was expected to grade zero after the US-Taliban agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan; however, suicide bombing and other acts of violence still continue.

As in the very latest examples of terrorism Tuesday, at least 30 people were killed and 70 others were injured in a suicide bombing in eastern Nangarhar province as well as a minimum 14 were killed and 15 others got wounded in an attack on a maternity ward in a hospital in Kabul.

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Taliban infiltrators arrested in Kunduz: MoD

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2021)

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Tuesday that a number of Taliban infiltrators were arrested in northern Kunduz province amid a sharp increase in Taliban attacks across the country.

The MoD said in a statement that the infiltrators – under the guise of tribal elders – had spoken to the Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to hand over a security checkpoint to the Taliban without any clash.

The suspects were arrested in the Kala Gaw area of the provincial capital Kunduz city.

Earlies the Ministry of Interior (MoI) warned that the tribal elders who act as mediators to negotiate between government forces and the Taliban for handing over outposts to the militants will be arrested.

Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the MoI, stated that “indeed, the act of them (elders) is a direct cooperation with the Taliban.”

“The Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) have already been directed to arrest anyone who [acts as mediator],” Arian tweeted last week.

This comes as the Taliban insurgents have launched coordinated attacks to capture centers of the districts across the country.

Security sources told Ariana News that the Chora district of Uruzgan; Maiwand district in Kandahar; Nahrin district and Unit 20 of Afghan forces in the Chashma-i-Shir area in Baghlan province; Chahar Dara district and Sher Khan Port in Kunduz; and the Shah Joi district of Zabul province were fallen to the Taliban in the last 24 hours.

The Afghan forces, however, have retaken the Balkh district in Balkh provinces; the Doshi district of Baghlan province; and the Khanabad district in Kunduz province in the same period.

According to reports, dozens of districts have been captured by the Taliban since the militants intensified clashes across the country.

The Afghan military said at least 234 Taliban militants have been killed and 103 others wounded in clashes in Logar, Nangarhar, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar, Zabul, Faryab, Balkh, Samangan, Helmand, Takhar, Baghlan, Parwan, Kunduz, and Kabul provinces.

The Taliban, however, has not commented in this regard so far.

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Indian officials meet with Taliban in Doha: Report

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2021)

A senior Qatari official said Indian officials made a “quiet visit” to Doha where they met with the Taliban’s political leadership.

India Today reported Tuesday that speaking at a virtual event, ‘Looking Towards Peace in Afghanistan after the US-NATO Withdrawal’, organised by Arab Center Washington DC, Qatar’s Special Envoy of the State of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani said, “There has been a quiet visit by Indian officials to speak with the Taliban. Why? Because not everybody is believing that the Taliban will dominate and take over because the Taliban is a key component or is going to be a key component of the future of Afghanistan.”

Al Qahtani’s comment comes after India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met with Qatari leadership twice on June 9 and June 15. During these meetings he met with the Qatari Foreign Minister and the National Security Advisor, as well as US Special Representative on Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad.

Responding to a question by an Indian journalist about his meetings with the Qatari leadership, US Special envoy Zalmay Khalizad and the role of India in Afghanistan, Mutlaq Al Qahtani said, “I see the reason behind the talks or dialogue or reaching out to all parties in Afghanistan. It is important to keep in mind that we are in a critical stage at this time and if any meeting is going to take place, it should be for one main reason, which is to encourage the parties to solve their differences by peaceful means.”

India Today reported that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), however, declined to comment on Al Qahtani’s statement. There has been no official word or confirmation by the MEA on any engagement with the Taliban leadership since the Doha talks began or even before, India Today reported.

Asked whether talks between India and Pakistan were being discussed as part of the Afghanistan reconciliation process, the Qatari special envoy said, “Should not allow Afghan soil to be used as proxy among any countries. It is in the interest of Pakistan to have a more stable Afghanistan. It is in the interest of India, of course, to have a more stable Afghanistan. We understand Pakistan as a neighbouring country and India as country that assisted a lot economically in Afghanistan and want Afghanistan to be peaceful and stable.”

While India has not officially engaged the Taliban, Indian representatives have attended key Afghan processes, including the inauguration ceremony for the Doha talks.

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US military continually assessing withdrawal progress: Kirby

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2021)

US leaders are continually assessing the progress of the retrograde from Afghanistan and the state of operations in the country and adjust accordingly, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said on Monday.

Addressing a press briefing, Kirby said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said the retrograde from Afghanistan is on pace but that “it is a dynamic situation in the nation”.

This comes amid a sharp increase of attacks by the Taliban against Afghan security forces’ installations and district centers, especially in the north of the country.

Kirby stated that Austin and military leaders in the Pentagon, at US Central Command and in Afghanistan, “are constantly looking at the pace we’re going at, and the capabilities we have, and the capabilities that we’re going to need throughout to complete the withdrawal.”

Kirby said. “So as we said, from the very beginning; while there is a schedule, we are mindful that that schedule could fluctuate and change, as conditions change.”

Kirby also said there are only two aspects of the Afghanistan retrograde that will not change: “The first is the US military will withdraw all US forces from the country, and the second is the withdrawal will be finished by the September deadline set by President Joe Biden.”

He added, however that some troops would stay behind to protect American diplomatic missions.

Other aspects of the Afghan situation are still being studied, Kirby said.

Commanders at many levels are wrestling with what over-the-horizon counterinsurgency and over-the-horizon logistics will look like, he said but added the US military can already provide the over-the-horizon support that the Afghan government will need.

“[People] tend to forget that we already do have over-the-horizon capability when it comes to the counterterrorism threat in Afghanistan,” he said. “Is it robust enough? Is it sustainable for the long term? Well, that’s what we’re looking at.”

Kirby also said that planners continue to look at ways to provide contractual support to Afghan forces once the retrograde is completed.

“There’s a range of options that we’re looking at for how to continue to provide contractual support … specifically the Afghan Air Forces,” he said.

“We’re very actively working our way through that right now. We’re looking at a range of options.”

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